Celebrating the Year of the Nurse and Midwife

When the WHO declared 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, no one could have predicted just what a year it would turn out to be for nurses and midwives around the world as their vital importance to society became ever more obvious during the COVID-19 pandemic. To showcase the significant contribution nurses and midwives, in both clinical and research settings, make to better health outcomes for patients, and to celebrate their achievements, the Institute is sharing the inspirational stories of our nursing and midwifery researchers.

Written by Madeline Hawke RN RM

Madeline Hawke RN RM is a PhD candidate at Deakin University studying shared decision-making in antenatal clinic with women with high BMI. She works clinically as a midwife and nurse at Box Hill Hospital in Melbourne. Before undertaking her degree in nursing and midwifery, Madeline completed a Bachelor of Music (Jazz) in the USA and Master of Philosophy in Gender and Women’s studies in Ireland. She is particularly passionate about representation and support of women. After working in numerous women’s health and charity organisations in Australia and internationally, and following the birth of her daughter, she chose to pursue nursing and midwifery in an effort to further support women in the community. As a midwife and nurse, Madeline relishes the opportunity to be at the forefront of improvements in the way women are represented and treated in the healthcare system.

 

 

What does the year of the Nurse and Midwife mean to you?

 The year of the Nurse and Midwife is a recognition of the significant role nurses and midwives play in our community and in health services around the world. For me, it is an important opportunity to reflect on and celebrate the vast and complex contribution nurses and midwives make to healthcare. Though often overlooked, and sometimes under-appreciated, nurses and midwives provide a vital service that we all rely upon for an efficient, intelligent and empathetic health system.

Over the course of your life what has been your proudest accomplishment?

 My proudest accomplishment was completing a double nursing and midwifery degree full-time while raising two very small children. My eldest child was eight months old when I started the degree and I had my second child in a six-month intermission between the first and second year of my degree. The kids will probably never remember the hours I spent juggling essays, placement and childcare, but the fact that we all survived and – in many ways – thrived during that time was quite a significant achievement. However, I cannot claim this as a purely personal accomplishment. It would not have been possible without the support and encouragement of my husband and parents.

 Over the course of your career what has been your proudest accomplishment?

My proudest professional accomplishment so far was independently establishing the Irish Feminist Network in Dublin in 2010, a feminist organisation aimed at promoting and highlighting issues of gender equality in Ireland. I have been very proud of its involvement in significant campaigns for gender equality in Ireland, including its role in galvanising support for the ‘Repeal the 8th’ campaign to allow reproductive choice for women in Ireland. I have also been exceptionally proud of being accepted into the PhD program at Deakin University; to have this opportunity so early in my career as a midwife is something I am very grateful for.

 What did you want to be when you were younger? And when did you decide to become a nurse or midwife?

 When I was younger, I churned through a number of career ambitions from paediatrician to veterinarian to famous jazz singer. I didn’t think of becoming a nurse/midwife until after my first child was born in 2013. I had been working in charity organisations advocating for the empowerment of women and, during the birth of my baby, recognised the significant role midwives play in empowering and supporting a woman through what is an incredibly vulnerable and overwhelming period of her life. The decision to study nursing in addition to midwifery as part of a double degree was important to me, providing an opportunity for me to explore another aspect of healthcare, strengthen my midwifery practice, and widen my scope.

 What inspires you to do your job?

 My inspiration comes from improving outcomes for each of the women and/or patients I care for. Nursing and midwifery is one of few careers where you receive immediate feedback from what you do, where changes in practice can result in an instantaneous response. I gain inspiration from the interaction I have with women and patients every day in my clinical work. If I work hard to develop rapport and engage in woman-centred care or shared decision making, I can immediately see the impact this has on a woman’s experience of pregnancy, labour and birth, or a patient’s experience of my nursing care. That kind of instant feedback encourages me to constantly improve my practice, to value each interaction and positively enhance the experience of healthcare for those I look after and support.

 What got you interested in becoming a researcher in the area of nursing and midwifery; what do you hope to achieve with your research?

Aligning with my passion for continuous improvement in care for the women and patients I support, I have been drawn to midwifery research to improve outcomes. As a nurse and midwife, I can impact the care of those that I work with on a micro level, but research allows me to improve outcomes collaboratively on a macro level as well. I am passionate about qualitative research focussing on women’s experience of maternity care, and believe if we work in partnership with women, we can improve both their clinical outcomes but also their experience of care.